Earlier this year, we reported on a bill in Oregon that would actively register eligible citizens, creating one of the most complete voting lists in the country. Last week, Oregon’s legislature passed that voter registration bill (HB 2177), paving the way to adding hundreds of thousands of citizens to the voting rolls by shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the state. Driver’s license and ID data stretching back to 2013 will be used to register Oregon citizens who aren’t already on the voter rolls.
With data from the Department of Motor Vehicles, elections officials will send a postcard to individuals, giving them a chance to opt out or to register with a political party. However, if no action is taken, they will be registered as a non-affiliated voter. The secretary of state’s office has estimated that the measure will add about 300,000 to the voting rolls, which now total just under 2.2 million. (Plans are in place to safeguard the identity and address of at-risk individuals.)
Governor Kate Brown (former Secretary of State who became governor last month) announced that she looks forward to signing the bill when it reaches her desk.
Oregon already boasts high turnout (ranked 5th in 2014, at 53.5%), in part because of all-mail voting. This step will likely lead to higher turnout, as registration is often a barrier to participation. In a national survey, the primary reasons individuals gave for not being registered were that they had not had time to register (19%) and that they had recently moved (17%).
Interested in learning more about 2014 voting and trends? Register now for our March 19 webinar.